Warning Signs & Symptoms of Glaucoma
Posted on March 2, 2016
Most common in aging adults, the complexities of Glaucoma affect the optic nerve through uncommon high pressure in the eye. As one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States, Glaucoma is irreversible. Prevention surrounds identifying symptoms of glaucoma, frequent eye pressure measuring techniques, and a healthy lifestyle. If you’re able to catch this disease before advanced progression, you might be able to avoid blindness – even though you’ll more than likely require treatment for the rest of your life.
The problem is, symptoms of the most common form of glaucoma (open-angle) rarely exists until your reach advanced stages of the disease. As you continue to read, you will notice that symptoms vary, depending on the stage of glaucoma, alongside the type of the disease you’re experiencing.
Open-Angle Glaucoma Symptoms
This form of glaucoma refers to the angle of the meeting point between the cornea and the iris. When your eye’s drainage canal progressively clogs and this angle has been maximized, pressure within the eye increases and gradually damages your optic nerve.
Although there are multiple forms of the disease, open angle glaucoma affects over 4 million Americans and is easy to classify because it’s gradual effects are minimal and difficult to identify. Referred to as the “sneak thief of sight”, you tend to ignore symptoms (if any) until you begin noticing extensive loss of vision. Open angle warning signs include:
- Minor blind spots in both eyes that become patchy in your peripheral or central vision.
- Once you reach the advanced stages, tunnel vision is common.
Until the optic nerve has significant damage, most of these glaucoma symptoms are undetected. Furthermore, a literal change in vision isn’t imminent and sight accuracy is typically maintained throughout the early stages of the disease. Routine eye exams by your primary care clinician may not be ample which is why patients with a family history of glaucoma should receive annual eye specialist examinations..
Symptoms of Angle-Closure Glaucoma
The second form of glaucoma develops once the eye’s drainage canals become blocked. The main difference with angle-closure is the fact that the progression happens rapidly and requires immediate medical assistance as damages occurs rapidly.
- Eye redness
- Sudden foggy, blurred, or loss of vision.
- Low lighting brings a sudden onset of visual disturbance.
- Bright lights add multiple colored circles – or halos – to one’s vision.
- Severe eye and head pain (headaches).
- Nauseating feeling or vomiting alongside severe eye pain.
Additionally, there are acute and chronic symptoms relating to angle-Closure Glaucoma. When your symptoms are acute, it’s important that you’re treated immediately as this is considered an emergency situation. It’s quite possible that you could lose your sight altogether within 24-48 hours of the first warning sign. Similar to the “Open-Angle” condition, chronic angle-closure progresses over time while damaging the optic nerve. Once patients begin losing peripheral vision is when they notice the changes of this chronic disease.
Eye Conditions Often Mistaken for Glaucoma Symptoms
Ocular Hypertension – This occurs when a patient’s eye pressure is higher than normal and pertains to increased fluid pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) without signs of visual loss or damage to the optic nerve.
Normal Tension Glaucoma – When a patient’s eye pressure is normal but they’re experiencing damage to their optic nerve as well as blind spots within their field of vision or peripherally.
Detecting Symptoms of Glaucoma
As we already discussed, genetics play a big role into your risk of contracting Glaucoma. In addition to aging in general, diabetics, Latinos, African Americans, or those experiencing heart disease possess an increased risk as well. When it comes to diagnosing the disease, our specialists participate in the following approaches:
Dilated Eye Exams – Before the specialist examines your optic nerve and retina through magnification for conditions and damage, they dilate (expand) your pupils with specialized drops. The results of this test causes a few hours of blurry vision for close objects.
Visual Field Testing – By measuring one’s peripheral vision capabilities, an optometrist is able to determine if a patient is experiencing one or more glaucoma symptoms.
Visual Acuity Testing – By using an eye chart, one can analyze their depth of vision.
Pachymetry – One of our specialists numbs your eyes with eye drops and begins measuring the thickness of your cornea with a specialized ultrasonic tool.
Tonometry – After applying the numbing drops, an eye specialist measures the pressure of the inside of your eye with a tool called a tonometer.
No matter the cause, symptom, or method of diagnosis – it’s imperative that you seek treatment and consultation immediately. Losing your vision can be devastating and it’s worth visiting the clinician for peace of mind. Our eye care specialists have the ability to treat patients in the home, on the go, or by appointment at one of our clinics. Feel free to take advantage of either by calling our registration department in Surprise, Arizona.